Belarus
24.09.12
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing harassment of Ms. Tatsiana Revyaka

URGENT APPEAL -THE OBSERVATORY

New information

BLR 002 / 0912 / OBS 077.1

Administrative harassment

Belarus

September 24, 2012

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Belarus.

New information:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing harassmentof Ms. Tatsiana Revyaka, Board member of the Human Rights Centre“Viasna” and member of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile.

According to the information received, on September18, 2012, Ms. Revyaka received a notification from the Tax Inspection of MinskPershamaiski District stating that she was “obliged to submit a declarationof income and property not later than October 3, 2012 for the period of2004-2010, in pursuance of Article 12 of the Law of the Republic ofBelarus 'On Declaration of Income and Property by Individuals'”.

TheObservatory strongly condemns this new act of harassment against Ms. Revyaka(see background information), which is part of a more general campaign ofharassment against members of Viasna, since it seems to merely aim at impedingtheir legitimate human rights activities.

TheObservatory is all the more concerned at this latest development, that theauthorities have been increasing tax-related harassment against some humanrights defenders in Belarus, by depicting them as tax offenders. In 2011, theyalso adopted a set of provisions intended to facilitate the criminalisation oflegitimate human rights activities in the country in a context where the rightto freedom of association is regularly trampled. Tax-related harassment hasparticularly intensified after Mr. Ales Bialiatski, Vice-President ofthe FIDH and President of Viasna, was sentenced to four and a half years'imprisonment and to heavy fines under abusive charges of alleged large-scaletax fraud.

Background information:

On August 17, 2012, Ms. Revyaka was summoned to theKGB “as a person knowledgeable about the circumstances relevant to the nationalsecurity of the Republic of Belarus”. KGB officers interrogated her about apublication on Viasna's website on August 15, 2012, titled “Mahiliou KGBinterferes with electoral process”. The officers showed her a printout from thewebsite charter97.org containing the same reprinted information under theheading “Mogilev KGB terrorises collectors of signatures”. The officers alsoinquired on the source of the information and its authors and asked her whethershe had checked the date mentioned in the article, arguing that publishing suchinformation without confirming it would discredit the state security ofBelarus. As a result, Ms. Revyaka was warned over the publication of uncheckedinformation on Viasna's website. However, despite these verbal criticisms, theinterrogators allegedly told Ms. Revyaka that the KGB had no legal motives toopen judicial proceedings against her.

Thesaid publication described how a KGB officer in Mogilev broke into theapartment of Mr. Uladislau Yaroshau, a collector of signatures and student atthe Mogilev State University of Arkady Kuliashou, and tried to learn about howmuch money he received for collecting signatures, and who managed the process.He threatened to dismiss Mr. Yaroshau from the university for his work in theteam of an opposition candidate and proposed to him to cooperate with the KGB.

Actions requested :

Pleasewrite to the Belarusian authorities, urging them to :

i. Guarantee in allcircumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Tatsiana Revyaka, as well as of all humanrights defenders in Belarus;

iii. Put an end to any kindof harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ms. Tatsiana Revyakaas well as against all other human rights defenders in Belarus;

iv. Conform with theprovisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by theGeneral Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone hasthe right, individually and in association with others, to promote and tostrive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamentalfreedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that“Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] asprovided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments,freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information andknowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study,discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice,of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and otherappropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.

- and its Article 12.2, which provides that “theState shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by thecompetent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others,against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Ensure in allcircumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordancewith international human rights standards and international instrumentsratified by the Belarusian Republic.

Addresses:

· President Alexander Lukashenko,ul .Karla Marksa, 38, 220016 Minsk, Belarus, Fax :

+ 375 172 26 06 10 or +375 172 22 38 72, Email: contact@president.gov.by

Head of the Administration of thePresident of Belarus, Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Makei, Ul. K. Marksa 34,220016 Minsk, Fax: + 375 17 226-06-10

· General Prosecutor,Grigory Alekseevich Vasilevich, Internatsionalnaya str. 22, 220050 Minsk,Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52

· Minister of Justice ofBelarus, Mr. Viktor Grigorevich Golovanov, Ul. Kollektornaya,10, 220004 Minsk, Belarus, Email kanc@minjust.by

· President of the SupremeCourt of Belarus, Mr. Valentin Olegovich Sukalo, Ul. Lenina,28, 220030 Minsk, Belarus, Email: scjustrb@pmrb.gov.by

· Permanent Mission ofBelarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211 Geneva 20,Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: mission.belarus@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Belarus inBrussels, 192 avenue Molière, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87,Email : embbel@skynet.be

Please also write to thediplomatic mission or embassy of Belarus in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, September 24,2012

Kindly inform us of anyaction undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory,call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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